ABC NEWS – Gov. Greg Abbott ended Texas’ statewide mask mandate and announced an executive order to allow all businesses to reopen at full capacity.
“COVID has not suddenly disappeared,” Abbott said at a news conference Tuesday.
“But it is clear from the recoveries, from the vaccinations, from the reduced hospitalizations, and from the safe practices that Texas are using, that state mandates are no longer needed.”
Abbott’s executive order is effective March 10, overriding a previous executive order issued in October.
The new order mandates that if hospitalization rates exceed 15% hospital bed capacity for seven days, county judges may use mitigation strategies in their jurisdiction, according to Abbott.
The state’s mask mandate had been in effect since July.
Abbott spent the last week teasing the announcement during press conferences and on Twitter, hinting at “exciting news.”
Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have cautioned against states reopening too quickly.
At a White House briefing on Friday, Fauci warned against easing restrictions until the U.S. baseline average of new infections is lower.
“We have to carefully look at what happens over the next week or so with those numbers, before you start making the understandable need to relax on certain restrictions,” Fauci said. “Watch it closely, and be prepared to react according to what actually happens.”
White House senior COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt told CNN Tuesday night he hopes Abbott will rethink lifting restrictions, especially the mask mandate, though he stopped short of suggesting President Joe Biden should call the governor to ask him to change course.
“We think it’s a mistake to lift these mandate too early. Masks are saving a lot of lives,” he said … Click source below to read more.
Mississippi announces businesses free to reopen without state-imposed coronavirus rules
FOX BUSINESS – Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday in announcing that all businesses within his state will be allowed to resume unrestricted operations, nearly one year after President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.
Reeves acknowledged that restrictions put in place to protect the public health were “unprecedented” and needed to be lifted as soon as possible.
As of Wednesday businesses in Mississippi will be able to resume full operations without any state interference and residents will no longer be subject to county mask mandates … Read more.
Massachusetts is easing restrictions
BOSTON GLOBE – As Governor Charlie Baker eases more pandemic restrictions on restaurants and other businesses starting Monday, public health experts warn that the moves could backfire, upending the state’s progress against COVID-19 and risking a new surge in cases …
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have both cautioned that states rolling back health measures now could face a resurgence of the virus …
The move to loosen restrictions includes allowing indoor performance venues like theaters and concert halls to run at greater capacities, removing some pandemic capacity limits for restaurants, plus permitting them to host musical performances.
Baker has cited declining numbers of new daily cases and hospitalizations as evidence supporting the rollbacks in restrictions.
On Sunday, a spokesman for the administration defended the governor’s handling of the public health crisis by saying the state is leading the nation in its efforts to battle the virus.
“Massachusetts is a national leader in vaccination rates and COVID transmission is declining significantly — allowing the Commonwealth to continue the responsible, incremental process to lift economic restrictions,” said Baker spokesman Terry MacCormack in a statement Sunday …
The governor said he would allow further measures, including permitting stadiums to hold small crowds starting March 22, “as long as the public health data continues to get better.” People will have to continue wearing masks and follow other public health rules, however, the governor said.
The move to expand reopening in the state was hailed by restaurant owners Sunday, who said the changes are vital to keeping their businesses alive as the pandemic endures.
“When I heard the news and read the details [on] the Mass.gov website I was jumping for joy,” said Hamilton Rodrigues, owner of George’s restaurant in Brockton. “The governor made a step in the right direction.” Read more.